Circuit training vs cardio for fat loss

I always look for ways to make my workouts and the workout manuals that I offer on this site more efficent. While I was ‘in the lab” the other day I started thinking about alternatives to cardio training for fat loss.

Circuit training vs cardio

Before I list what I feel are the best alternatives to cardio, please keep your personal goals in mind. Endurance athletes should only use these circuits once per week to increase they conditioning. If your goal is to train for distance then go right ahead and continue to run on the treadmill the way you are.

But if you want to increase your fat loss and give your joints some time off from the constant pounding of cardio then these circuit training options are for you.

Circuit training vs cardio: the research

A recent study examined how circuit training benefits the cardiovascular system. After all, isn’t that why most runners hate on circuit training? Here’s the study reference

Gotshalk, L.A., Berger, R.A., and Kraemer, W.J. (2004). Cardiovascular responses to a high-volume continuous circuit resistance training protocol. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(4), 760-764.

Here’s a quote from the researchers…

This evidence-based research demonstrates that when properly performed and sequenced, a continuous circuit training protocol at a low intensity (40% 1RM) and without aerobics stations, can evoke a satisfactory cardiorespiratory response.”

As the true believers of Jimmy Smith Training, you already knew that.

Here’s my hierarchy of circuit training alternatives for cardio

  1.  Dumbbell circuits
  2.  Bodyweight times rounds
  3. Dumbbell-medicine ball circuits
Here’s a sample circuit training workout of each.
Dumbbell circuits
A1) Squat to shoulder press: 12 reps
A2) Dumbbell reverse lunges:15 reps per leg
A3)T Push Ups with a row: 8 reps per arm
Rest: 30 seconds then repeat twice more.
B1) Dumbbell ab roll outs: 20 reps
B2) Single arm dumbbell rows: 15 reps per arm
B3) Floor dumbbell chest press: 12 reps
Rest:30 seconds then repeat twice more
Bodyweight timed rounds
Aim to complete one set of each movement in under three minutes
Round # 1
A1)Close grip push ups: 15 reps
A2)Inverted rows:30 reps
A3)Reverse lunges: 12 reps per leg
Rest: 45 seconds then repeat this round twice more
B1) Spiderman walk: 25 steps per leg
B2) Single leg squat: 12 reps per leg
B3) Burpees: 10 reps
Rest: 45 seconds then repeat this round twice
Dumbbell-Med ball circuit
A1) Stiff leg deadlifts: 8 reps
A2) Med ball slam: 15 reps
A3) Med ball squat to overhead throw: 12 reps
Rest: 45 seconds then repeat this round twice more
B1) Crunch to med ball throw: 15 reps
B2) Standing dumbbell shoulder press: 12 reps
B3) Med ball circle slams: 12 reps
Rest: 45 seconds then repeat this round twice more
The traditional definition of circuit training workout and cardio is all backwards. Trainers believe that putting a client on one machine after the next accomplishes the goals of a good circuit workout. That’s false. The main purpose of both circuit training workout and cardio is to drive the heart rate up while also releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline to signal the fat burning process to begin. It’s not about putting someone on a smith machine and making them squat until their legs burn and it certainly isn’t about doing reps just for the sake of it.
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